1998 – Cloughjordan’s Charlie Steers a Legend Home

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Nenagh Guardian, 21 March 1998

Report from the front page of the Nenagh Guardian on the events of that week in Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, when one National Hunt icon carried another to glory in the Champion Hurdle. Even those with just a fleeting interest in horse racing will have heard of Istabraq, who is ranked amongst the likes of Arkle, Flyingbolt, L’Escargot and Moscow Flyer as one of the greatest Irish jumpers of all time. In 1998 he was backing up his winning debut in Cheltenham the previous year when he won the Novices Hurdle, and this triumph was the first of a three-in-a-row in the Champion Hurdle. The Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001 put paid to his drive for a fourth, and, past his best and suffering from injury, he was forced to pull up in 2002 and cede his glittering crown to Hors la Loi. Istabraq’s pilot, Modreeny’s Charlie Swan, is held in equally high esteem as a jockey, winning nine consecutive Irish jockeys’ championships in the period 1990-98. His record at the Cheltenham Festival was also exemplary, winning the top jockey title there in 1993 and 1994. His career saw him teamed with a number of famous horses – such as Like A Butterfly, Viking Flagship, Urubande and Danoli – but he will forever be thought of for his remarkable relationship with Istabraq. After the horse’s retirement in 2002, Swan paid a glowing tribute to his most famous mount;

“It’s farewell to a fantastic horse, I’m unlikely to come across one like him again. He was superbly handled, looked after and trained. I had the easy job riding him.”

 

NG 21 Mar 1998 Istabraq